Cory Martens is still looking for a championship at Cessna Stadium.
After a standout high school career at Newton, where he was runner-up in discus and third in the shot put at the state meet at Cessna Stadium as a senior, Martens now calls Wichita State home after transferring from Division II Chadron (Neb.) State as a graduate transfer.
Martens will have one more chance at bringing home a title at Cessna Stadium this weekend, as Wichita State plays host to the American Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championships starting Friday. He enters with the top hammer throw (201 feet, 6 inches), third-best discus (181-3) and the fourth-best shot put (57-10.25) in the conference.
“It does bring back some memories for me,” Martens said. “It’s kind of crazy to think the last time I was competing here for a state championship. It’s been an awesome experience getting to practice here every day, and I can’t wait for the (AAC) championship.”
In his first season on the team, Martens has already become an important figure. Not only does he score a lot of points in three different events, which is crucial if WSU is going to challenge overwhelming favorite Houston in the men’s team race, but Martens has also become a leader.
“Cory is a real good athlete and he’s operating at a real high level, but he brings a lot more to the table than just his athletic contributions to our team,” WSU coach Steve Rainbolt said. “He’s a leader, he’s a good teammate, he’s a hard worker. It’s clear to me that he’s a guy that’s into the team concept, and I love that about him.”
Martens graduated from Chadron State last spring, but still had eligibility remaining due to a knee injury. He reached out to WSU, and the two quickly came to an agreement. Martens could pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice, which Chadron State doesn’t offer, and also have one more year of throwing.
He came as an accomplished thrower at the Division-II level, but Martens has improved significantly in his year with the Shockers and throwing coach John Hetzendorf.
Martens added 6 feet to his personal-best weight throw, a 65-6.25 mark that was the sixth-best in WSU history and was runner-up at the AAC indoor championships. In the outdoor season, Martens has etched his name in the WSU record books in the hammer throw (No. 5 all-time), discus (No. 6 all-time) and shot put (No. 7 all-time).
“My office overlooks the throwing area, and when I’m sitting at my desk and I see implements flying through the air, I can almost wager that it’s Cory Martens throwing them,” Rainbolt said. “That’s what it takes, a guy that’s into it and prepared and that’s Cory Martens.”
Rainbolt also loves the team-first mentality Martens has taken with the Shockers.
That’s a big reason why the Newton native wanted to come to WSU.
“I know they’re a program that’s always competing for championships, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Martens said. “Personally, I’m more goal-oriented to scoring as many points as I can that gives us the best opportunity to win as a team. Whatever that takes to knock somebody else out, jump over someone that maybe wasn’t expecting me to throw this far. That’s my goal.”
Regardless of how WSU does this weekend, Martens considers his year at WSU a major success.
“It’s even better than what I thought it could have been,” Martens said. “The culture here that everyone is busting their butt every week to help the team kind of brought me back to my experience playing football in high school. It was like week 1 comes around and you’re excited for the first football game, that’s what it’s been like with this team. I haven’t experienced that in awhile and it’s a pretty special feeling.”